Although things haven’t been stormy down here on earth, they sure are up on the Sun. Our primary source for heat and light is in a period of active instability, producing large explosions of material known as Coronal Mass Ejections. These CME’s can throw a lot of radiation at us, sometimes powerful enough to disrupt communication and electrical grids.
One beautiful side effect of these solar storms is how they interact with our atmosphere. The particles light up the sky into what we know as the Northern Lights. These spectacular light shows are very common the closer you get to the poles, but here in Iowa they are rare to see.
Recently, a large CME was captured, one of the largest ones seen this year. At this time it appears much of this particular storm will not affect Earth, limiting the impact on the northern lights. But with this active solar season continuing, we remain hopeful that we’ll get a chance or two to see some interesting light displays over the Hawkeye State.